When it comes to testing a thermal interface material, the goal is very similar to cooler reviews where the idea is to determine how cool the processor stays under both idle and load states. With this concept in mind, I will be using a test system that puts out a good deal of heat along with an alternative cooling method to see how the MX-2 material from Arctic Cooling compares with the king of the hill, Arctic Silver 5.
Yes, I understand it is comparing a metallic material with a non-metallic variety, but if you are going to enter the market with a product aimed at enthusiasts, then you really need to be able to compete with the products which most enthusiasts are currently using.
Though before we delve into the numbers let's take a quick look at the test box.
Processor(s): AMD Athlon FX-53 Processor @ 2.4GHz (Supplied by Newegg.com)
Heatsink: Vigor Monsoon II TEC Cooler (Supplied by Vigor Gaming)
Motherboard(s): DFI LANParty UT nF4 Ultra-D Motherboard (Supplied by DFI)
Memory: 2x512MB Mushkin "Redline" PC3200 Memory (Supplied by Mushkin)
Graphics Card: Sapphire X1900XT (Supplied by Sapphire)
Power Supply: Thermaltake ToughPower 1200w PSU (Supplied by Thermaltake)
Testing will consist of monitoring temperatures at both idle and at load. The processor is running at default speeds but still manages to put out 94 watts of heat. The voltage of the CPU is 1.55v and ambient testing temperatures were a consistent 22C. As noted above, the cooling solution used for this test isn't your normal air cooler, it is an active thermoelectric cooling setup. I already know that metallic compounds do not have issues with this type of scenario, so I want to make sure that the MX-2 material not only performs as it is supposed to, but also intend to abuse it as much as possible to make sure that it really is a product which will work for those who live to overclock.
Hmmm...while not a huge difference, the Arctic Cooling compound has certainly taken the AS5 and given it a run for its money; and beat it to boot. While not everyone is going to be running a TEC, it is good to know that this goop will be able to handle the added stress of this type of cooling scenario.
As for the numbers, it is hard to complain about any difference in temperatures. A quick trip to the calculator shows that the MX-2 gives a 4% lower temperature at idle and a 3% lower temperature under load. Add to this the fact that it is also non-conductive and you have the beginning of a wonderful relationship.